Egg-less Cottage-cheese Muffins

In this post I am going to share the recipe of egg-less cottage cheese muffins that I make at home. These muffins are super easy to make and healthy too.

Egg-less Cottage cheese muffins

Made of milk, cottage-cheese, honey and whole wheat flour, these muffins become really handy when I’m not in mood to run after my daughter with glass of milk in my hand. I can easily let her enjoy these healthy muffins. Being filling, these muffins are perfect choice for breakfast or evening snacks.

Why I love cottage-cheese so much?

I find home-made cottage cheese or paneer as we Indians call it really versatile. As an ingredient in recipe, it blends seamlessly without dominating the recipe.

I replace it in most of my recipe which requires other ready-made cheese, be it home-made pizza or Italian veggie potato. Cottage cheese makes food nutritive bringing in protein and calcium with it. In this recipe, cottage-cheese made these muffins moist and gave them a perfect crumbly texture.

I make cottage cheese regularly at home and you will always find a bowl of it in my refrigerator. It’s easy to make at home and it’s fresh and cost effective when it’s home-made.

I have made these muffins in convection mode of microwave, so you can try it easily even if you don’t have OTG in your home. So, here is the list of ingredients easily available at home. Proportions mentioned here will give you 12 delicious muffins.

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat flour: 1 cup
  • All-purpose flour: 1/3 cup
  • Honey: ¾ cup
  • Ghee (clarified butter): 2/3 cup
  • Milk: 1 cup
  • Glazed Cherries: 7-8
  • Vanilla essence: ½ tsp.
  • Lemon juice: 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Baking powder: ½ tsp.
  • Baking soda: ½ tsp.

Procedure

Step 1

Sieve all the dry ingredients 4 times. Don’t be lazy in sieving the flour as it will give you soft and crumbly muffins.

Step 2

Take ghee and flour in a bowl and mix with your fingers to make crumbles of flour. I have used here melted home-made ghee. You can substitute it with any vegetable oil.

Since, I’m in habit of making ghee at home, I replace home-made ghee with oil in cooking whenever it’s possible. You can read about easy process I follow to make ghee from malai (cream) in microwave.

Step 3

Divide milk in two equal parts. ½ cup milk will be used to make cottage cheese while remaining half is to be used to make batter.

Step 4

Add lemon juice in ½ cup milk and heat it. Milk will curdle up in no time. Take if off the fire and keep it aside. Do not drain the cottage cheese as it will be used along with the healthy whey.

At this stage you can keep the oven for preheating at 180 degree centigrade. Till the oven gets heated you can finish the mixing process.

Step 5

Remove seeds and cut cherries into small pieces. Dust little bit of flour in cherries before adding them in batter. Dusting with flour will prevent them from sinking at bottom.  After dusting, add cherries to flour.

Step 6

Warm the other remaining ½ cup of milk. In a bowl bring together vanilla essence, honey, ½ cup warm milk and curdled milk.

Step 7

Electric whisk is not required. Just mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients all at once and stir quickly with help of a rubber spatula or a fork. Transfer the content of wet bowl into dry flour bowl and mix it. Don’t over mix, lesser the mixing strokes the better. Batter will be thick with small lumps.

Cottage-cheese muffins batter

You can even bake it in baking tin instead of making in muffin molds. Grease the tin with butter/ghee and transfer the batter in tin.

Step 8

Arrange the muffin liners in mold and pour in the batter in each mold. Fill in mold about ¾ full. Bake in preheated oven at 180 degree centigrade for 20 minutes or until top gets golden.

Every oven works differently, so keep an eye on muffins while baking. After the set time, test by inserting a toothpick in the center of a muffin. If tooth-pick comes clean, remove them from oven. If not bake for other 6-7 minutes. Give a little standing time of 10 minutes and De-mold them.

Healthy cottage-cheese muffins

These wholesome cottage-cheese muffins taste best when warm, the day they are baked. However they can easily stay good for 3-4 days in refrigerator. Just warm them before eating, as ghee in muffins gets hard after refrigeration.  However, I doubt if they last that long as they have never at my home. 🙂

Though my daughter is used to the fact that mummy takes pictures of food these days, it was first time I was taking pictures of muffins so she was quite eager to have them.  So, I had to quickly finish the photo session before they were finished by my daughter and husband.

Cottage-cheese muffinsIf you are looking for healthy recipes you will surely like Egg-less millet and sesame seed cake and Egg-less banana walnut muffins.

Egg-less banana oats pancake makes a easy and healthy lunchbox recipe.

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How to Draw a Mandala in 6 Easy Steps?

Drawing a mandala is just like meditation – so relaxing and rejuvenating. Creating a mandala layer by layer is so fascinating and intriguing.

Mandala is a combination of repeated geometrical and organic patterns.  You can choose any shape and detailing of choice. Just keep in mind that while drawing mandala maintain symmetry of patterns.

I know one can get intimidated by seeing a mandala and may find it difficult to draw a mandala pattern. However, trust me if you know the process, it’s quite easy. No special training is required to draw a mandala.

It can be drawn on any medium (like paper or canvas), along with basic stationery requirement.  So, in this post I am going to show the flower mandala I drew on a thick A4 size white sheet.

Stationary required:

  • 1 white A4 sheet
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Fine tip pens (I have used 0.7 and .10 tip-size pens)
  • Circle stencils (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Compass
  • Coloring pencils (as I’m sure you would be tempted to add color to mandala you have drawn)

Process

Step – 1

First divide the sheet horizontally and vertically along the center. This gives perfectly symmetrical and consistent drawing.

With the help of compass or circle-stencil make 3 concentric circles (circles with common center) for reference. Center of circles must coincide with the intersection point of lines drawn in previous step. As you can see, this will divide each circle into four equal parts.

Essence of Mandala art lies in different intricate patterns drawn inside concentric circles.

Step – 2

I started by filling the area between inner-most and middle circles first. Here, I have drawn a flower with ten petals.

How to draw mandala - step 3

I first drew top and bottom petals along the vertical dividing line with the line bisecting both the petals. This will help you in figuring out the exact space left in each quadrant. In this drawing, space for just two petals was left in each quadrant. So, I filled the space with two more petals in each quadrant.

Tip – Dividing the page helps in better allocation of space and gives a perfect symmetrical drawing with less effort and rework.

Step – 4

Next, I added four pairs (one inside each) of petals (with vertical and horizontal guiding lines bisecting them) between the outermost and middle circles. Then I filled empty spaces in each of the four inner petals with three teardrops.

How to draw mandala - step 4

Step – 5

Let’s proceed to the next outer layer. In this layer, I added eight quartets (one inside each other) of petals.

How to draw mandala - step 5

Again follow the same rule. First draw outermost petals in each quadrant to get a judgment of available space. For this I first drew three petals but it looked too cramped, so I went ahead with only two petals. Since two looked fine, drew similarly in remaining quadrants too.

Tip – While drawing repetitive patterns (with bigger shape containing the next similar smaller shape), always draw outermost shape first and then the next inner one. This saves time and effort on repeated work.

For example, if you go the other way, i.e. draw the inner shape first and if not enough space is left for next outer shape, then lot of rework may be required. So, always start with the biggest size and then proceed to next smaller inside shape.

I always follow this technique even while drawing intricate Indian folk art, like Madhubani painting.

Step – 6

In the last layer of this beautiful mandala, I drew eight petals. An eight-petal lotus mandala is considered sacred in many cultures (like Hinduism and Buddhism). If you do some research on flower mandala, you will come to know how common eight-petal pattern is.

How to draw mandala - step 6

Here also, follow the same process of first drawing four petals on dividing line. This will give you a fair idea that only one petal can be adjusted in the space remaining. Then add the further detailing inside each petal.

Step – 7

After completing with mandala drawing, make it permanent with a fine-tip black pen. You can even use sketch pen or any marker pen for the same. After completion of pen work, erase the pencil lines. Finished mandala will look like this.

How to draw mandala - step 7

You can leave at this point, but how about coloring it? 🙂

How to color a Mandala?

There is no such rule on how to color a mandala. Just follow your heart! Drawing requires brain and heart, while coloring is just the work from heart. It’s often said, colors filled in a mandala reflect your state of mind.

Colored Mandala

In happy state obviously your hand will reach for brighter colors (like red, yellow and orange colors). While in peaceful and calm state you may reach for shades of blue and green.

I’m so used to adding bright colors in madhubani paintings, have colored this mandala too in bright color combination. Have a look at this colorful Ganesha madhubani painting.

So, color it the way you want. After all, you have created it with so much effort. You can even take multiple copies of the mandala you have drawn, and fill each of them with different color combinations.

I sincerely hope this tutorial was helpful to you. You may also like to read how to make a personalized name-plate.

In case of any doubt or confusion feel free to ask me, I will be more than happy to help you. Your question will also help others trying to draw a mandala. If you think something more needs to be added here please do let me know.

From here you can start creating your own mandalas and may be some day I will see your mandala coloring books. 🙂

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Fellow bloggers how do you manage time?

Since I have started blogging I’m always looking out for some more free time; time to read some more blogs. There are so many wonderful bloggers sharing their enriching experiences.

Before blogging I was greedy for free time for my art related works like doing Madhubani painting or Zentangles. Interesting posts in reader steals away so much of time. Still till date I have never ever able to complete new post in reader, there are always some post left unread.

So here is upfront question from fellow bloggers how do you all manage time. I see some blogs are so lively filled with lots of interactions. How do you people manage time?

How do you allocate time for reading other bloggers post and taking out time for commenting?

Easy Chana Dal Pakora

Few days back, I was grinding soaked chana dal to make stuffing for farra (a delicious and healthy steamed preparation made of rice-flour and chana dal).

Suddenly, my daughter came with her demand for pakora, and soon my hubby too joined her saying this monsoon does call for hot pakoras. So, all of a sudden plan for tempting channa dal pakoras was in place.

bengal-gram-fritter

Pakora is very easy to make and even better, it tastes awsome in cool weather. In Indian households, in rainy weather, hot plate of fried snacks and masala chai are a common sight.

Just like spicy samosa, pakoras too are favorite street food available around the year in all parts of India. They are also called vadas or bhajias in different parts of the country.

Pakoras are Indian fritters made out bengal-gram (chana-dal) flour or lentils. It can similarly be made with green-gram (moong-dal) lentil. Just make sure you have soaked dal for 2 hours prior to grinding. Actually, lots of variations can be done in pakora while adding any vegetable of your liking in batter. You may also like to read about moong-dal tikki – the lentil preparation with less oil.

Though these days I have reduced the frequency of making pakora as it’s deep-fried, but once in a while savoring lip-smacking hot snacks is permissible :-). So here is the easy process of making chana dal pakora.

Ingredients

  • Soaked bengal-gram (chana dal): 1 cup
  • Sliced Onion: ½ cup
  • chopped green chilly: 2
  • Chopped coriander leaves: 1 tbsp
  • Ginger: ½ inch
  • Salt: as per taste
  • Turmeric: ½ tsp (optional)
  • Asafoetida (hing): ¼ tsp
  • Cumin seeds: ½ tsp
  • Oil for deep frying

Procedure

  • Cut thin slices of onion. It’s important to cut thin slices of onion because thick slices of onion take more time to cook than dal. So you won’t get the taste of crisp pakoras, after all the fun is in having in crisp pakoras.
  • Grind soaked chana dal, ginger and make a coarse paste. You can even add green chilly while grinding. But when children are around I prefer adding thick-chopped chilies so they can remove it while eating. Do not add water while grinding or it will make the batter thin.
  • Now add onion and all the other ingredients in batter and mix well. You can grind dal few hours in advance, but don’t leave batter for long duration after mixing salt and onion.  This is because water is released from onion which thins the batter. After proper mixing, batter is ready for deep frying.
  • Heat oil in heavy bottom skillet and add spoonfuls of batter in hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the skillet with pakoras or you will find it difficult to manage these hot bubbling beauties. 🙂
  • After about 5 minutes, slowly turn them upside down. You will see nice golden color. Keep turning them till you get evenly-cooked crisp pakoras.

Once they get that nice golden color, pull them out and spread on kitchen paper towels as this will absorb excess oil. My Mil often jokes whenever I keep pakoras on kitchen towels after frying. She says, “your generation love to enjoy fried food but want to avoid oil, how is that possible?”  🙂

lentin-fritter

Enjoy these tempting pakoras with hot cup of masala-tea accompanied by green mint chutney or garlic chutney. You may even like the combination of sweet and tangy tamarind chutney with hot pakoras.

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How to make immunity-booster Masala Chai?

I am from a family of tea-lovers, and I myself is a big-time tea-buff. Before marriage, I used to have 3-4 cups of tea daily. However, gradually due to my husband’s opposition and acidity problems, I realized one cup of evening tea is more than sufficient.

Masala Chai

So, I decided to have just one cup of tea which should be of my liking. I am so particular about my tea that I always make it myself. I very rarely like tea made by someone else.  Call me cynical, but even if I am visiting someone at tea-time, I usually have my tea at home before going.

I always try to enhance the flavor of my tea and that too in a time-saving manner. That’s why, one fine day I thought why to grate ginger and crush cardamom every day. Won’t it be better to take a shortcut without compromising taste? So, this led me to come up with home-made tea masala.

I pondered what all can be added in tea-masala and gathered all dry ingredients available at home and made fine powder of it. Trust me it turned out really good. It’s more fragrant and is required in small quantity compared to stale ready-made ones. I really love my masala chai with spicy samosa and moong dal tikki :-).

It’s really simple and you can adjust the proportion of ingredients according to your liking. Information gathered about health benefits of mint leaves while writing mint drink and mint chutney posts made me try mint leaves in tea too.

Since these days I am very fond of mint tea, I increased the amount of dry mint leaves. Let me tell you, mint in tea tastes really good as it adds subtle flavor of mint in tea.

When affected by sore throat or cold this kadha (kahwaa)  works wonders for me. It’s so soothing to have a hot cup of kadha. It also provides some relief from body pain caused from cold.

So, here is the list of ingredients I have used. If by chance you don’t have any that’s perfectly fine. Since it’s monsoon time, I have added dry tulsi (holy basil) and cloves as they act as immunity-booster providing protection from cough and common cold.

Making-masala-tea

Ingredients

  • Black peppercorns: 1 tbsp
  • Cinnamon (dalchini) sticks: 4-5
  • Black cardamom: 4-5
  • Cloves: ½ tbsp
  • Green cardamom: 1 tbsp
  • Dry mint leaves: 1 tbsp
  • Dry tulsi (holy basil): ½ cup
  • Dry lemon grass: ½ cup
  • Dry ginger powder (saunth): 2 tsp

Procedure to make Chai-masala

  • Cut lemon-grass strands into small pieces and crush tulsi leaves too.
  • Take all the herbs and spices and grind to make fine powder.
  • You will get an aromatic tea-masala ready to make masala-chai.
  • Store it in an air-tight jar to keep its fragrance intact. This tea-masala stay good for more than 6 months at room temperature. So no need to store it in refrigerator.

Chai-masala-powder

Procedure to make Indian Masala-chai

  • To make one cup tea I normally take ¾ cup milk and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan.
  • Bring it to boil and add 2 tsp tea-powder, 1 tsp of sugar and ½ tsp chai-masala.
  • Cover it and brew it on medium flame for 10 minutes.
  • Take it off the heat and strain it directly in your favorite tea cup.

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Easy Black and white Madhubani Paintings

Madhubani painting is one of the popular styles of Indian folk paintings. Every region in India has its own folk art with Madhubani painting originating from Bihar. You can read more about Madhubani paintings in what is Madhubani.

One of the objectives of this post is to help anyone who is interested in Madhubani art. It was readers’ interest in mono-color Madhubani paintings that encouraged me to share my black and white Madhubani Painting.

Madhubani painting takes time and needs practice to master it. In short, there are no shortcuts. I have not taken any formal training in this art, but learned by practicing and observing others great artists work. So, all you need is lots of practice.

You can learn the basics of Madhubani painting by going through easy madhubani painting for kids. if you have basic idea of Madhubani and want to create a Madhubani painting with more detailing, you can read my post about How to draw Madhubani painting in 6 easy steps.

Stationary required for black and white Madhubani Painting

  • Hand-made sheet/thick drawing sheet
  • Pencil
  • Black marker pen
  • Fine-tip black pen
  • Black poster color
  • Fine-tip round brush
  • Tracing sheet

Process for black and white Madhubani Painting

  • I divided the drawing sheet in four equal parts and sketched a guideline with pencil on one part. Traditionally, skilled Madhubani artists worked directly with brush and nib. Their free-flowing hands didn’t required pencil guidelines.
  • I then copied the same design on tracing paper and then traced it on all 3 parts. Tracing helped in achieving uniformity in all four parts of the painting.
  • After finishing the tracing work with pencil, I proceeded to make outline with black marker.
  • With the fine-tip pen, made the inner outline. If you notice, there is double line throughout the painting. Double line is one of the main characteristics of Madhubani Painting.

madhubani-painting-process

  • With the help of fine-tip black pen, I did intricate detailing in foreground and background.
  • In the last step, I used black poster color and fine-tip round brush to fill in black color.

Fish in Madhubani style

Art gives you lots of liberty to experiment and develop your own style. There are number of ways using which you can make a madhubani fish. If you observe here I have created five different kinds of fish, each with different detailing.

Fish-in-madhubaniBackground of Madhubani Paintings:

I’m often asked what one should observe in madhubani paintings? My answer is to look for detailing and intricate pattern which makes this folk art more treasured.

Even the background plays important role in Madhubani paintings. No space is left blank. Every inch is filled with fine lines.  I have incorporated petal shapes (as shown in image #1) to fill the background. Whereas, to fill small negative space in between used the repeated pattern of fine curved lines (as shown in image #2).

Madhubani-background-detailingPeacock in Madhubani

Initially, I thought to create black and white Madhubani fish painting. However, when I started sketching, love for peacock couldn’t stop me from drawing Madhubani peacocks. 🙂

madhubani-peacockRole of border in Madhubani painting

Border is essential in Madhubani painting. It gives a complete look to painting. You can use any repeated pattern of curves to form a border. Here, I have used lotus motif in all four corners and in center. Then completed the border with repeated flowing curve patterns.

border-for-madhubaniSo here is the how my completed black and white Madhubani painting looks like.

easy-madhubani-paintingIf you are attracted towards intricate art forms I’m sure you would like to  draw mandala by following this tutorial for easy mandala drawing in six easy steps. If drawing is not your forte and you enjoy coloring than why not try this free printable coloring page.

Pour in your questions on Madhubani paintings. I would be more than happy to help and it would be learning process for me too.

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